Spiritual attainment comes about as naturally as the night becomes the dawn. It is the inevitable outcome of right thinking and right action, not forced by rigid unnatural methods, but the result of the faithful perfermance of our one-pointed duty. The open sesame to true progress is LIVING -- not in one or two dramatic moments, but throughout twenty-four hours of each day.
-- James A. Long, EXPANDING HORIZONS, pages 152-53.
By B.P. Wadia
[From THUS HAVE I HEARD, pages 158-62.]
The Epic named JAYA must be listened to by him who desires success.
-- ADI PARVA, MAHABHARATA
Scholarly and very useful work has been done by painstaking Sanskritists at Poona's Bhandarkar Oriental Institute with the recension of the authentic text of the great Epic. That recension of the original text of THE MAHABHARATA is a monument of more than historical significance.
We hope that a team of able men of insight will undertake the task of translating THE MAHAHARAHA using the Bhandarkar Institute text. Meantime we continue to be indebted to the translation published in the last century by Pratap Chandra Roy. The bulky volumes of that "close and valuable translation" do not attract many readers among the busy public of our busy civilization. We therefore welcome the result of two new ventures at abridgment; both commencements are based upon that translation. The first is the issue of the ADI and SABHA PARVAS by Shri C.V. Srinivasa Rao, M.A., CIE, of Bangalore; the second is "selections from" the ADI and SABHA PARVAS by Mr. S.C. Nott of Chelsea, London.
These two condensations are done from different points of view: the former should interest especially many Indians, not only Hindus, but also all who are Indian citizens and who have their roots in the Noble Land of Aryas, whose culture is chronicled in THE MAHABHARATA. Long generations of Hindus have learned THE MAHABHARATA'S lore mainly by osmosis, through hearing the stories and legends repeated for children by their mothers and grandmothers, for the youths by their instructors. Now, when education is dependent chiefly on sight and reading, that osmosis process has stopped its beneficent work. Shri Srinivasa Rao's labor of love in planning an English translation in abridged form will supply a need. The first installment is attractively got up and the contents are very readable. It is "a smaller canvas, but sufficiently large to admit ... as much as possible of this unique epic." This abridgment is being issued in parts and so the ordinary reader will not be frightened by the bulk of the original. The point of view of Shri Rao is not only to present the main story, so very admirably done in verse by the great Indian, Romesh Chunder Dutt, whose handy volume is most attractive. Valuing highly "the greatest work of imagination that Asia has produced," Shri Dutt regrets that "tales, traditions, legends, and myths ... found a shelter under the expanding wings of this wonderful epic." His abridged rendition is modeled on the Greek Epics, and it certainly is pleasing and informative and in many respects remains the best version of the main story.
THE MAHABHARATA, however, has many aspects. To quote Shri Srinivasa Rao, it is "an encyclopedia of knowledge and a social history of the times." To give some idea of it to his Western friends and readers Shri Dutt described the heterogeneous contents of the Epic thus:
The religious works of Hooker and Jeremy Taylor, the philosophy of Hobbes and Locke, the commentaries of Blackstone and the Ballads of Percy, together with the tractarian writings of Newman, Keble, and Pusey, were all thrown into blank verse and incorporated with the PARADISE LOST.
Shri Rao has rightly given in his rendition some mystical and mythical incidents also which will interest many readers. These incidents do not mar the smooth running of the main story, while they bring out some other important features of the colossal Epic.
The student of Eastern Occultism values allegories, myths, and mystical doctrines. Thus, for example, Shri Dutt mentions, "the 18 battles fought on 18 days." We might add that there are 18 chapters of THE GITA; and that the contending armies were divided into 18 army corps. Is this only coincidence? The late Shri T. Subba Row, an Adwaiti philosopher and a devotee of Adi Shankara, states: "The book is called by a name which means 'eighteen.' This number is mysteriously connected with Arjuna."
It was the mystical and the occult current of traditional thought running through THE MAHABHARATA that greatly attracted the late Mr. A.R. Orage. He was one of the very few Europeans who had this intuitive conviction:
What Greek and Roman culture did for the dark ages, I believe THE MAHABHARATA may do for our own benighted age -- more, in fact, because it springs from a higher source.
With these words, he closed his first contribution to THE ARYAN PATH (Vol. I, page 89, February 1930) entitled "The Next Renaissance."
The second abridged selection mentioned above, which has now been done by Mr. S.C. Nott, is inspired by the memory and work of Mr. Orage. In an Appendix to the volume, a few extracts are given from his writings.
Mr. Orage, a philosopher familiar with Esoteric Doctrines has impressed Mr. Nott, who himself is attracted by the Occult; therefore in his selection the student of the GUPTA VIDYA, the Secret Science, will find many thought-provoking, clarifying, and uplifting ideas.
H.P. Blavatsky believed in the esoteric character of THE MAHABHARATA. She says that the allegorical descriptions are full of significance to the students of THE SECRET DOCTRINE. In another place she writes: "The Mahabharatan War, which to the Europeans is the FABULOUS, to the Hindus and Occultists the historical."
The Epic is also designated as NITI-SHASTRA -- Code of Morality: how men and women of all ages, different castes and classes, various stages and statures, should behave. Especially is this to be found in the SHANTI PARVA and in the magnificent discourse of Bhishma.
Consider this. For those who aspire to live the Higher Life a teaching is offered for practice. This piece of practical instruction is to be found in the ANUGITA, which like the more popular BHAGAVAD GITA is part of the great Epic. The Instructor says:
I have crossed beyond that very impassable place, in which fancies are the gadflies and mosquitoes, in which grief and joy are cold and heat, in which delusion is the blinding darkness, in which avarice is the beasts of prey and reptiles, in which desire and anger are the obstructers, the way to which consists in worldly objects, and is to be crossed by one singly. I have entered the great forest.
Then follows the description:
There is nothing else more delightful than that, when there is no distinction from it. There is nothing more afflicting than that, when there is a distinction from it. There is nothing smaller than that; there is nothing larger than that. There is nothing subtler than that; there is no other happiness equal to that. Entering it, the twice-born do not grieve, and do not exult. They are not afraid of anybody, and nobody is afraid of them. In that forest are seven large trees, seven fruits, and seven guests, seven hermitages, seven forms of concentration, and seven forms of initiation. This is the description of the forest.
H.P. Blavatsky has spoken of THE ANUGITA as "a very occult treatise" and quoting at some length from it offers explanations that the earnest student of psycho-philosophy will do well to read.
This Epic is great (MAHAT) and weighty (BHARAVAT) and of it, there is this record:
Where the Bharata is read, there all sins subside, and there prosperity, fame and knowledge flourish in all joy.
By Iverson L. Harris
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, January 1939, pages 54-61.]
Huxley, the English biologist, once wrote in substance that there must be beings as far above man as man is above the black beetle. Kenneth Morris thus completes the same idea:
Below us are innumerable grades of consciousness: the infinitesimal electron is a world: amoeba and protozoon stand at the summit of aeons of evolution. Above us, must there not be grades as infinite? Who shall say where humanity ends, and Godhood begins? It is a Jacob's ladder is evolution.
The Great Sages are intermediate links in the endless chain of evolution between men and spiritual beings (to us, incorporeal) of whom all sacred literatures tell, but of whom few of us can have definite knowledge save to the degree that we raise ourselves in aspiration and consciousness towards their lofty estate. The Great Sages are the Fine Flowers of human evolution.
The most important single fact in the history of humanity is the existence of Great Sages and Seers, Spiritual Teachers. They have been the fashioners of most that is noblest and finest in the civilizations of the past and of the present: Krishna, Gautama the Buddha, Lao-Tzu, Confucius, Pythagoras, Plato, Quetzalcohuatl, Jesus the Christ -- not to mention others of less renown though perhaps not always of less spiritual stature.
Why should we imagine that lofty spiritual beings ceased incarnating on this earth thousands of years ago? Is it not obvious that what Nature has produced once, Nature can produce again? Discipleship did not end with the Last Supper, nor did the Spiritual Guardians of Humanity forget their task when the Great Syrian's divine efforts failed to avert the plunge of Mediterranean civilization down the Gadarene Slope.
The Buddha and the Christ lived and taught. Lao-Tzu and Confucius revealed and labored. Pythagoras and Plato penetrated behind the veils of the outward seeming into the inner worlds and brought back to mankind the truths there learned by them through experience and initiation. Because of all this, have we not ample evidence that such as these Great Ones can live, teach, and reveal again?
Should such great ones come among us, how may we recognize them? "By their fruits shall ye know them": by the doctrine that they teach, by the life that they live, by the compassion that they show, by the light that they shed about them: by these INSIGNIA MAJESTATIS shall you know the true spiritual Sage and Seer. You cannot recognize him unless there is something akin to his spirit stirring within your own soul. If one is puffed up with egoism, soured with jealousy, blinded with self-righteousness, or "cribb'd, cabin'd, and confined" within the iron shell of his brain-mind prejudices and preconceptions, one would not recognize a spiritual Teacher though he spoke with the tongue of an angel and came with a direct mandate from the Great White Lodge itself.
Who can set bounds to the possibilities of man? Once inhale the upper air, being admitted to behold the absolute natures of justice and truth, and we learn that man has access to the entire mind of the Creator, is himself the Creator in the finite. This view, which admonishes me where the sources of wisdom and power lie, and points to virtue as to --
"The golden key Which opes the palace of eternity,"
-- carries upon its face the highest certificate of truth, because it animates me to create my own world through the purification of my soul.
-- Emerson, ESSAY ON NATURE
The Great Sages are the forerunners in the eternal pilgrimage which all of us are making. They blaze the trail for their less evolved fellow men to travel. In this present stage of evolution, here on earth, man stands supreme over all the visible kingdoms of Nature below him. Yet the thinking man knows intuitively, as did Huxley, that there must be beings as far above man, as he is above the black beetle. The Esoteric Philosophy refers to these highly evolved men as constituting the Great Brotherhood of the Masters, the Mahatmas, the Elder Brothers of the human race.
In former incarnations through ages past, they occupied positions along the evolutionary pathway corresponding to our own now. We are destined in future ages, if we run the race successfully, in our turn to become Elder Brothers, Spiritual Leaders, Guides, and Helpers, to those entities now trailing along behind us, entities that will then occupy the human kingdom or the kingdoms below the human.
This chain of beings evolving ever towards greater heights of spirituality, wisdom, and compassion, of whom the Great White Lodge is but one link, was called by the ancient Greeks the Golden Chain of Hermes, or the Hermetic Chain, and is generally known in Theosophical literature as the Hierarchy of Light or Compassion.
In Chapter 31 of THE ESOTERIC TRADITION, whose title as well as much of whose contents we have borrowed in this present study, Dr. de Purucker gives the following tentative scale of stages or degrees of evolutionary development:
(a) First Elemental Kingdom. (b) Second Elemental Kingdom. (c) Third Elemental Kingdom. (1) The Mineral Kingdom. (2) The Vegetable Kingdom. (3) The Beast Kingdom. (4) The Human Kingdom. (5) The Great Ones. (6) Quasi-Divine Beings or Lower Gods. (7) Gods.
He thus summarizes their most salient characteristics:
[The] most important of these salient characteristics is the growth or rather progressive unfolding of individuality or individualized beings, as we ascend rung after rung or degree after degree of the Ladder of Life, that is perceptible even here on our Mother Earth. The relatively perfect unism of the rocks slowly passes into the growth of individuality, which becomes faintly perceptible in the communism of the superior Kingdom of the plants; and as we leave the plant-world and follow the evolutionary picture as it ascends into the Beast-Kingdom, we notice the tendency towards individualization increasing steadily and even rapidly. In the Esoteric Philosophy, the Human Kingdom is considered a separate and entirely distinct kingdom from that of the Beasts. In it, the typically human attributes mark man sharply off from the beasts. These include the moral sense, intellectual power, and spirituality in its own ranges. When we reach the Human Kingdom, we find that the rise towards individualization has resulted in the appearance of characteristically distinct Individuals. Because of the spiritual, moral, and intellectual faculties and attributes inherent in them, these humans are at once distinct units in themselves, and yet equally distinct and self-conscious units in a social structure, which social structure is the more keenly and profoundly recognized in proportion as the human individual is the more developed.
-- THE ESOTERIC TRADITION, pages 936-37
We can get some conception of this evolutionary Ladder of Life and the place of the great Spiritual Sages in the Cosmic Hierarchy, by comparing a diamond or a gold nugget with a Buddha or a Christ. The diamond may be said to be the perfect embodiment of a monad or evolving consciousness-life-center in the Mineral Kingdom. It is not perfect because beautiful and rare, but because it is closer to the high spiritual plane, from which it started its great evolutionary journey in this period of manifestation as an unselfconscious god-spark. Beautiful and exquisite as the diamond is in its mineral embodiment, how much more inspiring and potent for good is the 'diamond-heart' of a Buddha, who has passed through all the lower kingdoms?
That Buddha, thoroughly individualized as a man, has merged his individual consciousness into the consciousness of the whole by self-devised efforts. He has deliberately chosen the path of compassion, and acquired thereby relative omniscience! As the diamond is to the piece of charcoal, though both are composed of identically the same chemical carbon, so is the Great Sage to the average man, though both are built of the same principles.
What is a Great Sage? The achievement of a wondrous alchemy, whereby fallen star-dust is ensouled with human consciousness and kindliness, wrought into a clear crystal of genuine worth in the crucible of experience and service, cut and polished into noble symmetry by education and thought -- a precious jewel that shines by its own light in any setting. And then, through such jewels, as Emerson wrote:
From within, or from behind, a light shines through us upon things and makes us aware that we are nothing, but the light is all.
These Sages have not blazed a trail to dazzle us by their light, so that instead of following in their footsteps we may crawl like worms in the dust and worship them personally, thereby crucifying them after they have passed out of our sphere even more than too often we do while they are in our midst in the flesh. Does this mean that we must not love and revere the true Spiritual Teacher, however much like us he may be in his merely human parts? Carlyle answers:
No sadder proof can be given by a man of his own littleness than disbelief in great men. A man embraces truth with his eyes open, and because his eyes are open. Does he need to shut them before he can love his Teacher of truth? He alone can love with a right gratitude and genuine loyalty of soul, the Hero-Teacher who has delivered him out of darkness into light.
Surely the Great Sages intended that we should follow along in their footsteps, becoming in our turn ever more and more like them, in degree sages, seers, and guides to less progressed beings. This view, far from arousing egoism, is one of the most chastening thoughts that could possibly come to a sincere aspirant, because using the Roentgen rays of utter candor in introspection, he realizes how far behind he lags in the evolutionary journey that is ahead of all of us.
How may we know whether we are following in the footsteps of the Great Ones or not? Here is a simple test: Do we fashion our lives by thought, will, and aspiration, or do we merely react to the environing circumstances and people about us? Do we THINK or do we merely REACT? If the latter, we have gone only a little farther than the beasts. If we consciously direct our evolution along the paths pointed out by the Great Spiritual Sages and Seers, we may be sure that we are drawing constantly nearer and nearer to them.
Let us turn now to some of the signposts that they have left behind them to aid us in climbing to the sunlit heights from which they are ever beckoning us to "Come up higher"! We shall find that these signposts are universal in their application to life. They are as true for the American as they are for the Japanese, as true for the German and the Italian as they are for the Spaniard and the Russian. Though placed along life's eternal highway in some instances thousands of years ago, they are as true in their guidance today as they were when first erected -- as constant as the Pole-Star, and the traveler who sets his course by their compass is sure to reach his goal in time. They overleap all the frontiers of nationality, race, creed, or epoch. They make a direct appeal to the Son of the Sun that every human being is in his highest part. They are, as Mohammed said about Allah, "nearer to thee than thy jugular vein."
Victor Hugo, in one of his most brilliant flashes of intuitive perception of truth, wrote:
We are as unwilling to submit to a leadership or dynasty of thought as to any other. This, however, is to misunderstand and to be frightened by a word when the thought is reassuring. The very law that requires that mankind should have NO OWNERS requires that it should have GUIDES. To be ENLIGHTENED is the reverse of being SUBJECTED. The march forward requires a directing hand. To rebel against the pilot scarcely advances the ship. One does not see what would be gained by throwing Columbus overboard. The words "This way" never humiliated the man who was seeking the road. At night, I accept the authority of the torches.
At some future time, we hope to point to signposts left by the Great Spiritual Sages and Seers of the past. Here let us observe some of those erected for the guidance of the present Theosophical Movement by the Masters M. and K.H. in THE MAHATMA LETTERS TO A.P. SINNETT. (We do not waste time discussing who wrote these Letters. It is their intrinsic worth which makes them worthy of a Master-not what ostrich -- like men without vision refuse to recognize in them that disproves their authoritative Message).
The CHIEFS want a "Brotherhood of Humanity," a real Universal Fraternity started, an institution that would make itself known throughout the world and arrest the attention of the highest minds.
-- THE MAHATMA LETTERS, page 24
Does anyone imagine that the prime purpose of the founding of the modern Theosophical Movement was to develop and exploit our psychic powers, or even to give us intellectual knowledge or a wide scope for metaphysical speculation, and that service to our fellow men was only a secondary consideration of the Real Founders? Then behold the signposts left by them in their own words:
We might justly maintain that it IS ... "the business of 'magic' to humanize our natures with compassion" for the whole mankind as all living beings, ... For it is "Humanity" which is the great Orphan, the only disinherited one upon this earth, my friend. It is the duty of every man capable of an unselfish impulse to do something, however little, for its welfare.
-- page 32
The term "Universal Brotherhood" is no idle phrase. Humanity in the mass has a paramount claim upon us, ... It is the only secure foundation for universal morality. If it were a dream, it is at least a noble one for mankind; and it is the aspiration of the TRUE ADEPT.
-- page 17
Has anyone so fooled himself as to believe that he can travel far along the road of discipleship towards masterhood and yet cherish ill will in his heart towards a fellow human being? The Master's finger points to the following signpost:
Beware then, of an uncharitable spirit, for it will rise up like a hungry wolf in your path, and devour the better qualities of your nature that have been springing into life. Broaden instead of narrowing your sympathies. Try to identify yourself with your fellows, rather than to contract your circle of affinity. However caused ... a crisis is here, and it is a time for the utmost practicable expansion of your moral power. It is not the moment for reproaches or vindictive recriminations, but for united struggle.
-- page 367
Does anyone ask for the secret of happiness?
Happy the man who helps a helping hand.
-- page 88
Do we believe that elaborate ritual and punctilious regard for form are the gates to masterhood?
It is men not ceremony-masters, we seek, devotion, not mere observances.
-- page 11
Do we perhaps feel that the ordinary duties of life and personal obligations already assumed disqualify us for treading the path of discipleship?
Does it seem to you a small thing that the past year has been spent only in your "family duties"? Nay, but what better cause for reward, what better discipline, than the daily and hourly performance of duty? Believe me my "pupil," the man or woman who is placed by Karma in the midst of small plain duties and sacrifices and loving-kindnesses, will through these faithfully fulfilled rise to the larger measure of Duty, Sacrifice, and Charity to all Humanity. What better path towards the enlightenment you are striving after than the daily conquest of Self, the perseverance in spite of want of visible psychic progress, the bearing of ill-fortune with that serene fortitude which turns it to spiritual advantage -- since good and evil are not to be measured by events on the lower or physical plane.
-- page 372
Are we perhaps impatient to know deeper secrets of life's arcana than have yet been revealed to us?
"Many are the grains of incense destined for the same altar: one falls sooner into the fire, the other later -- the difference of time is nothing," remarked a great man when he was refused admission and supreme initiation into the mysteries.
-- page 17
Do we belong to the ranks of the theosophical defeatists, literalists, or cyclic fatalists, who are sure that the Masters have deserted their own child, the Theosophical Movement, and will have nothing more to do with it in the West until the hands of the Cosmic Clock strike 1975?
Only those who have proved faithful to themselves and to Truth through everything will be allowed further intercourse with us.
-- page 264
Does not the above signpost contain the implicit promise, that those who DO prove faithful to themselves and to Truth through everything SHALL be allowed further intercourse with the Masters?
In THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE, H.P. Blavatsky tells us:
Help Nature and work on with her; and Nature will regard thee as one of her creators and make obeisance.
The Sage of Concord, enlarging on the same theme, in his ESSAY ON NATURE, wrote:
In private places, among sordid objects, an act of truth or heroism seems at once to draw to itself the sky as its temple, the sun as its candle. Nature stretched out her arms to embrace man, only let his thoughts be of equal greatness. Willingly does she follow his steps with the rose and the violet, and bend her lines of grandeur and grace to the decoration of her darling child. Only let his thoughts be of equal scope, and the frame will suit the picture. A virtuous man is in unison with her works, and makes the central figure of the visible sphere. Homer, Pindar, Socrates, and Phocion associate themselves fitly in our memory with the geography and climate of Greece. The visible heavens and earth sympathize with Jesus. In common life, whosoever has seen a person of powerful character and happy genius, will have remarked how easily he took all things along with him -- the persons, the opinions, and the day, and Nature became ancillary to a man.
That is the place of Great Sages in the Cosmic Hierarchy.
By Victor Endersby
[CHRONICLES ON THE PATH, Part VIII. This 18-part series appeared in THEOSOPHICAL NOTES from September 1951 through November 1954.]
Aryacharya, lying on the stone bench in the stone hut, heard on the cobbles outside the familiar footsteps that he had dreaded for some days. Overcoming the impulse to turn to the wall and pretend sleep, he looked up. When he saw the Guru's face, it came to him that terror was in neither face nor footsteps, but in his own heart. Nevertheless, it remained.
The Guru said, "You sent for me."
"Yes, I ..." He choked into silence.
"How did it begin?"
"It was when Suryadeva -- that one new come from a village of mud huts -- convicted me of error about the Sutra. They all laughed. Even you, my Teacher, smiled."
"After that assembly, the visiting monk Chandramaya spoke to me gently and respectfully, saying: "A wise man need not heed the laughter of fools. Let us walk in the hills and talk!" It was like healing salve on a burning wound."
"Do you remember clearly all that followed?"
"Not in detail. It was pointed out that while I had been wrong in the mere word-meaning, the principle involved in my rendering had been upheld by some of the great among sages, and could be shown to have a higher import than that which was taught in the Ashram. Pondering upon this, it then appeared to me that I had been laughed at for superior, not inferior knowledge. A great weight was lifted from my aching heart. Then I wondered why you, my Teacher, had not come to my aid. I asked Chandramaya about this. He gave me an ancient book, wherein he said I might find food for thought, and departed for some days."
"And you found?"
"A marked passage wherein it was said that one who gave full loyalty to an inferior teacher, in time would," his voice faltered ashamedly, "would transcend that teacher. I ... I had given you all the loyalty of my heart for full seven years."
"And how did you feel about all this?"
"Strange. It was a great desolation that you were not all that I had thought. I felt lost. At the same time, freed and joyous to know that, unrecognized even by myself, I had so progressed on the Path."
He smiled ruefully.
"This Chandramaya, he came as by chance to the particular Assembly of your mishap. He then spoke to you. You went away together. He had in his garments all the while that particular book with the so-aptly passage marked. Did this not impress you as strange?"
"Not then. After I went to Kalipur with him, I did ponder on it.
It then came to me that I had been befriended by a Being with
foreknowledge. I thought
"How did you come to go to Kalipur?"
"When Chandramaya came back, I had had much time to think. It seemed to me that if an inferior understanding of the Wisdom was in the world, the superior must exist somewhere also. I had resolved to ask Chandramaya about all this, and when I did, he suggested that I look into matters at Kalipur Ashram ... There I was received in the most brotherly and respectful manner. Even the prior listened to my views and deferred to them with respect. This I felt to be that true humbleness of the great, who understand that no man may grasp all of truth and are ever ready to receive more, whatever the source."
A goodly portion of what blood he had left was not in his face.
"Then you pledged yourself as Chandramaya's chela and were sent on a mission of preaching. During that mission, you were everywhere acclaimed for your goodly presence, your quick wit, and your ready command of the abstruse. This, I think did not cause you pain. Is it not so?"
Aryacharya moaned and closed his eyes.
"Also," continued the Teacher, "in the course of your journey through all the towns of the Kalighat, did you not use much of this wit to pour contempt upon the dullness of your former comrades and preceptors?"
"Even so," said Aryacharya faintly.
"Do you wish to speak of the raid on Bodhapur Temple?"
"I do not wish to, but I must ... Chandramaya told us that those
priests were an evil lot who engaged in foul practices in the
name of the Wisdom, and corrupted the villagers. He said that by
a show of force with the retainers of Kalipur, they would
speedily depart and leave all in peace; but that even if some
were slain, it were better to lose the body than to continue on
the road to Avicha. I
"What were you told of Bodhapur Temple? What did you find there?"
"We were told that within an inner and secret room we would find the foul implements of their true ritual. By some chance, I failed to find my appointed post during the raid, and came to the Temple, as the doors were broken. I went in. But the only inner sanctuary I found was furnished even as our own."
"What did Chandramaya say of this?"
"When I told him, he looked strange and was silent for a moment. He then said, 'One who fails in the right performance of duty must expect to be misled by false appearances. Had you not gone to the Temple at all you would have had no problem. Yet, because you have come to me honestly I shall enlighten you as to the nature of the dark seed that might ripen into the deadly weed of suspicion. The truth of the matter is that you never reached the real inner shrine. What you saw was the innocent secrets shown to the uninitiated. The real one lay behind and was discovered later.'"
"Then I retreated in shamed confusion. For many hours, I fought with my unworthy doubts. They bore upon me with irresistible pressure. I HAD to know. At last, pretending to go into the hills for solitary meditation, I went back to Bodhapur in disguise and examined the burned ruins of the Temple. There had been no other inner room. I had seen all. Chandramaya had lied."
"Did you not know that lie told by one in Chandramaya's high position was necessarily the act of a dugpa?"
"So our ancient books say. Do they not also say that there is one knowledge for the lowly, another knowledge for the elect? Are not also your own disciples sometimes deceived?"
"By themselves alone, and not without many prior warnings."
"Self-deceit, yes. It was that in truth that still led me on. I had forsaken an undertaking and pledged a new one. If this too were in error, I had lost all and was soul-doomed. This I had not deserved after such long faithful service, nor could I face it. I must go on in the faith that all was well WHATEVER the seeming."
"Tell me of the end."
"In the temple yard I found a scrawl. Looking to find the owner thereof, I saw my name thereon, and read. It was a note from one of Chandramaya's chelas to another. It spoke of foul things and seemed to indicate a sanction from Chandramaya himself. I could not, in spite of all faith, accept this as an innocent seeming to be forgotten. I went to Chandramaya therewith, who read it with a face like stone. After a long time, he said, 'my son, strange and terrible are the Mayas that test the fortitude and intuition of those approaching the goal of initiation. Steadfastness under doubt and temptation when the height is almost reached may mean the difference between glory and eternal darkness. The choice must be yours but it is my duty to aid. See you not how different may be the meanings of this matter? For instance, this note does not necessarily convey the meaning that you see. I may in reality be a way of saying thus and so. At worst, then we must face the fact that two chelas are delinquent and seek to lay a false teaching on the shoulders of their Guru. I shall keep the note and ascertain the truth of the matter. Rest in peace, my son, have faith, and all will be well!'"
"I went forth much comforted, feeling that perhaps attainment was nearer than ever. Many days went by without further word from Chandramaya; the while I noted that chelas beheld me strangely. At last, I overheard a whispered conversation:
"One said: 'But Aryacharya found a note that told the story."
"'Not so did I hear it," said another. "The note meant nothing. Aryacharya was jealous-minded and read this and that into it."
"I have the truth of it," said the third. "He had a fever and gave the Teacher a paper, telling a wild story. But on the paper was naught."
"Whence, I wondered, came all this? Had the chelas in question been taxed with the thing, and was this their defense? Chandramaya, I thought, should know. When I told him of these tales, he gazed upon me benevolently, placed the tips of his fingers together, and said: 'my poor boy. I know that you THOUGHT you gave me such a note. I was much concerned about you that day. You were flushed and your manner strange. The chelas so and so tell me of strange words that you uttered, and that you mistook the bald head of a monk, shining in the dusk, for the fallen moon, and cried out in alarm.'
"'The infection is passed and you feel better now. It is in such moments of weakness that dugpas seize upon us to implant dark seeds of meditation. For the sake of your soul, put aside all such imaginings.'"
"Then I knew. There was somewhat to fear of testimony. I HAD made a jest of the moonbeam glancing from that monk's glistening pate. It was a foolish and unkind jest. When I sought to leave the town, I was stopped with swords where no swords were before. I am Kshatriya-born. I countered sword with stone, left the guards stunned, and escaped over the ranges with these many wounds that seem not to heal. I felt no hunger, or thirst; I hungered and thirsted only for that punishment that would cleanse my soul. At last, I came here, where I found help, and sent for you. But I think I am dying."
The Guru gazed upon him long, with sorrow and compassion.
"In the speech of Raja Yoga," he said, "is no word for 'punishment.'"
"But Agnivarsha, your pupil and my Companion, died in Bodhapur Temple. I bore no arms, but am guilty in thought."
"Karma cannot be evaded by acceptance of the feeble punishments of man."
"But what may I do?"
The Teacher's voice was gentle.
"There is no further problem for the present. In future incarnations you have a choice of roads. By the easier and longer, you may abandon thought of the Wisdom and become as other men, householders, tradesmen, and peasants. Thus in numerous lives you may unknowingly absorb by degrees the results of your transgression, through the common lot of struggle, effort, disappointment, bereavement, disease and death. You may again take the Secret Path, or you may not."
"And by the other?"
"There is a dark land in the West where in times to come the Wisdom, a small but rugged growth among stones, shall battle for its life against minds of a people ill-attuned, against folly and treason within and hate without."
"The Companions of that day, in serving, shall suffer. The Goal to which you first pledged yourself was right to the highest service. In earning suffering, you have earned the right to serve, for only companions so qualified may serve well on that battlefield. You have failed. You may now transform that failure into success in a few short lives at most."
"What is the cost?"
"To suffer all that others have suffered through you. You shall relinquish your ascetic state to become householder, prey to anxiety, care, and bereavement. You, innocent, shall be held guilty of all that you in reality did in this life, and more. Pride of intellect will be humbled into dust, repeatedly, until the last bleeding fiber is crushed. When most faithful, you will be held most faithless; when most abnegating self, you will be seen as most selfish; longing only for the sweet rest of quiet wilds, you will be thought ruthlessly ambitious. In abnegating all, it will be thought that you seek to grasp all. When being most truthful, you will be held master of the lie. Desiring love, you will inspire fear; shrinking, you will seem arrogant. Reluctant to break a twig from a tree, you will appear merciless. Unknown hands will betray you. For, being deceived, you have deceived."
"How was I allowed to do this? Were we not told that three warnings of error would be given?"
"You had them from Chandramaya."
"Chandramaya? I do not understand."
"These paths, O Guru! Which holds the greater sum of suffering in the end?"
"That of the chela. It also holds the greatest risk. There will be other faults, new trials. You might again fail -- and forever. But, for mankind, the stake is great indeed."
"The choice is made."
The Guru stood. His piercing eyes were very kind, and much of the sadness was gone from his face; which, Aryacharya now saw, was that of a young man, beneath the bushy beard.
"Then," he said, "it may be that the final good will be greater than if the error had not been. Our love, hope, and trust are with you. I must go. There is great need elsewhere."
He laid his hand on the chela's head, a touch to help through the coming dark; and went away as the mountain woman outside the door knelt on the stones. As the sound of his boots receded, Aryacharya weakly turned his head and gazed at the evening star over the darkling mountains; star of hope and fulfillment. It shone small and far away, but steadily.
By Betty Bland
[From THE QUEST, May-June 2001, pages 106-7.]
Excitement filled the air when more than 500 members from 39 different countries attended the Ninth World Congress of the Theosophical Society, held in Sydney, Australia, January 11-18, 2001. Longtime friends and new ones among the many cultures represented at the Congress forged the bonds of brotherhood that cross all cultural boundaries. All were struck by our similarities, interest in the same studies, and concerns over the same issues.
"The Future Role of the Theosophical Society" was the issue under consideration in the workshop series for which I was responsible. The hundred or so participants in this workshop first explored our roots, remembering our foundations in the Ancient Wisdom, the grand purposes espoused by our founders, and the pioneering spirit of our early workers. We then broke up into smaller groups to tackle our hopes for the future.
Each of the four groups considered three issues.
During one of the last sessions of the Congress, each workshop leader reported to the whole body. Below is a summary of the points made during the discussions of our groups.
As in all efforts, one must first acknowledge the problems to be dealt with as one plans for the future. The most common problems are these:
We hope that in the future the Theosophical Society will be increasingly each of these:
Four major areas of effort were identified as ways to achieve the ideal Theosophical Society of the future.
The reception of each new seeker who comes through our doors is so important that it was treated as the first category, with the following suggested actions:
Although we do not view ourselves as evangelical, we recognize the importance of being visible and accessible to seekers. If we are not growing, we are dying. Here are some ideas for attracting newcomers:
We should offer a variety of programs for those who attend our groups, such as these:
Tasks requiring effort at the organizational level are these:
All of the workshop participants were amazed at the similarity among Theosophical groups everywhere, which have similar challenges and goals. We ended by challenging each other and all Theosophists to work together to achieve some of the aims listed above, asking each member to choose at least one or two items from the above lists to be their own personal project as a way of bringing about new visions of the Theosophical Society in the twenty-first century.
By John Rau
[In February 2000, John Rau was invited by the Humanities Department of Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan to outline theosophical philosophy and tie it in with world mythology. John was speaking on behalf of the Great Lakes Branch of the Theosophical Society (Pasadena). See
for more information on their lodge.
There is no end to the evolution through the various hierarchical schemes of nature. Eternal duration is the idea. We change and evolve in duration repeatedly, time after time, endlessly. There is no "something from nothing" beginning. There is no end, just change. We create ourselves one life to the next through our individual actions, reactions, and thoughts. It has been said in Hebrew Kabalistic literature: "First a stone, then a plant, then an animal, then a man."
After the Human Kingdom, there are Kingdoms of beings in advance of us who also evolve through the worlds. There are many names for them in the mythologies of the world. In Theosophy, we call them the Dhyani-Chohans. Some tag them with the generic name "Angels." They are of a different vibrational nature. We seldom if ever see them. It is probably wise not to dwell on their activities. Such efforts can lead to much silliness if we start chasing angels. There are, however, a great many interesting studies and philosophies concerning these "gods" scattered throughout world mythological, religious, and theosophical works.
All beings -- or rather the "sparks" that work through the beings -- progress through the evolutions in the hierarchies, the Kingdoms, the life-waves. The life sparks acting through the Vegetable and Beast Kingdoms will eventually enter the Human Kingdom. They will become like we are now, or at least something similar. You have all seen deer that are crossing the roads here in West Michigan. They are in no way as self-conscious as we are. They are admittedly conscious -- but not to our degree. We are all brothers -- we humans, animals, and plants. We are all on a similar journey. The sparks, working through the Kingdoms below us, have a destiny to unfold into humanity.
As stated in theosophical philosophy, we have a destiny to unfold beyond humanity, as we know it. Theosophists make the bold statement that after countless reincarnations as individual god-sparks working through the Human Kingdom, we will, with effort, enter into higher spheres and become as gods. We come to understand that there is no separateness or emptiness anywhere. We see that all matter is alive and in hierarchical evolution, a Universal Brotherhood. Doing so, we start an upward and inward journey toward the gods and their wisdom.
The planetary chain comes into manifestation. The earth is built. We follow along and our bodies are built with it and from it we are thus part of this earth. We were part of the living earth when it had a previous existence in a different planetary life. So also were the divinities with us that are now acting here as animals, plants, and minerals. We are a hierarchical family of enduring god sparks moving along together.
This way of viewing endless life leads naturally to a form of ethics that includes all humans as well as beings above and below us. That person sitting next to you is you at the god-spark level. We are all united. We have an enduring universal brotherhood. This brotherhood exists here and now. It is not in a future world to come. This brotherhood has existed in past lives and will exist in future lives. When we view the high ethical implications of this, we come again to the workings of Karma and Reincarnation.
If you go to a Sanskrit dictionary, you will see that karma simply means "action." Action creates causes followed by effects. If I take coins out of my pocket and toss them into the air, they are all going to hit the floor. I have affected the karma of those coins. Cause and Effect is easy to understand. Most of us think of the term "karma" as something negative, like bad karma. Karma is neither bad nor good. It is simply karma -- action.
Most Theosophists accept the concept of reincarnation alongside karma. Along with these two concepts is the logical conclusion that we work out our karmic repercussions in life on earth, not after the death of our body. We carry our seeds with us from life to life. Rest, sleep, and bliss compose the interim between one manifested life and the next. When I go through life making the mistakes as well as the good choices that we all make, then I will reap the harvest of my actions either before my life in this body is completed, or I will carry the seeds over into the next incarnation to work out in a new life, a new personality.
Karma is why we are all so different from each other. We have been acting out the rules of cause and effect for millions of years. We are all creating our own future lives with every breath, thought, and action we take today. This is not a law of punishment or reward. It is simply action -- cause and effect. We have simple law, but complex results.
We travel as a human life-wave through the globes of our earth chain. We do so in different bodies built for us. We built these bodies through countless embodiments. We are individuals having descended into our material world in a fashion similar to the descent and building of the globes that we have been discussing. The saying goes: as above, so below. With the globe chains formed, it is said that as a human life-wave, we have evolved into Round Four out of a projection of seven Rounds total. We are somewhat less than halfway through our divine formation of this earth, which would be 3 1/2 Rounds, or one-half of seven. We humans have now encountered on Globe D the bottommost tip, or the lower portions, of our "higher" mind.
This event occurred millions of years ago. We woke up. Our higher mind descended into us. We became aware of the journey, the path. We remembered. We realized that we were more than higher animals. From this point on, we became, as individuals, consciously aware of our actions, our karma. We became able to guide ourselves through effort in various creative directions and endeavors. Language, the arts, engineering, spiritual and mental development, business, government, or some other unfoldment of mind and applied thought became important segments of our world. This event is symbolized by the myth of Eve in the Garden of Eden encountering the fruit of knowledge and wisdom offered by the serpent. Serpents in myth often represent knowledge and wisdom.
|Buddhi||To Enlighten||Spiritual Vehicle or Vahan of Atman|
|Manas||To Cognate||Mental Body|
|Linga-Shraira||Pattern Body||Astral Body|
|Sthula-Sharira||Gross Body||Physical Body|
We see seven individual principles in our chart. The wording chosen for these principles is taken from the Sanskrit language. At the top, we see Atman, the supreme. Atman is the Self. It is selfhood. It is not the egoic self, which we usually think of ourselves as. It is the Self that we all are. At Atman, we are joined together, all of us.
We next see below Atman the principle Buddhi, a spiritual consciousness. Buddhi is the vehicle of Atman. Atman has somehow sent a spark, a ray, a thought out of itself and formed the vehicle Buddhi, through which it works in its descent into matter.
The vehicle of Buddhi is Manas, the mind, and is a result of that same spark of Atman, only now it become Manas on a lower plane. Manas has a higher and lower nature. We all know the lower mind. We use it as a tool to drive us through our day-to-day existence.
After Manas, we see Kama or the desire principle. This Kama, this desire principle, is a neutral force. We, as thinkers and governors of ourselves decide the direction of our desires and their resulting actions of cause and effect.
After Kama, we see Prana. We can translate Prana as "before breath" or "life principle." Prana delivers the glue of earthly life and animation. (In the East, one will find many types of "Prana" mentioned in yogic texts. We use it here as a generic term).
Next, we see Linga-Sharira, a model, pattern, or "marked" body. Our physical body is grown from this model. Another name for this principle is "Astral Body" (star stuff body). In Shaivist Hinduism, the followers of Shiva sometimes use a stone as a symbol of worship and ceremony. The stone is cut or naturally formed in such a way that it resembles the shape of our solar system. I often think of the Linga-Sharira in a similar oval form. According to occult philosophy, we are each a universe in miniature.
The last and lowest principle is our physical body. It is thought of as an excreted gross body. Gross is "Sthula" and "Sharira" translates as "body," thus we have Sthula-Sharira.
These principles can be thought of as above or within us. They are not really like the steps on a ladder, but because we are communicating with minds of matter, we have to communicate these ideas in material terms and symbols. One can visualize them in any way one likes. We are thought of in this Theosophy as "composite" beings with multiple souls and egos.
An interesting point about the Sanskrit word "Sharira" (body) is that it is an ancient definition of a body "that is easily dissolved." Some have interpreted this ancient definition to mean "full of holes." Science today is teaching that the building block parts of the atoms of which our bodies are composed are relatively emptier than they are full. We are, as bodies, essentially etheric. Our physical world is mostly so-called empty space.
When considering these ideas, keep in mind the truth of universal brotherhood. Keep in mind our oneness of being. Keep in mind our interconnectedness with each other, with the Kingdoms below and above us, and with earth and solar system. With these in mind, we are led to true ethics. Otherwise, philosophy and Theosophy are simply intellectual exercises.
We are all one being. The universe -- the one-song -- broke itself up into pieces to understand, expand, and experience itself in time, space, and matter. As pointed out in many ancient teachings including the story in the New Testament, whatever we do to any OTHER we do to the ONE and to our Self. Eventually as the earth evolves back to its origin, all life-waves will re-enter godhead. The Buddhists call it a state of Nirvana. The Christians and followers of Mohammed call it Heaven or Paradise. The Hindus say Moksha or bliss. Theosophists use the term "Pralaya" for this period between manifested worlds. Like us, the earth and solar system also have a sleep and rest cycle.
THE AFTER-DEATH STATES
At this vibration of materiality in which we are currently involved, the teaching concerning the death of the body and our lower principles is this. Nothing is stagnant. Nothing is fixed. We are growing. We are evolving. At a certain point, our gross body (Sthula-Sharira) can no longer keep up with the life force streaming through us and it is forced to drop off. We -- or rather our intensified life energy from above (or within) -- burn out the physical body. The body dies and returns to the earth. The Prana dissipates quickly, it returns I suppose to the sun and the stars from which it came. The Linga-Sharira or astral body (our model body), combined with the lower portions of the Kama (desire) and lower mind (Manas), join and enter an invisible atmosphere of the earth, sometimes referred to as the astral plane or Kama-Loka (desire-place). Sometimes people see glimpses of these cast-off Kama-informed astral bodies. We call them ghosts. This "spook" remainder contains the lower remains (lower desires and knowledge) of the previous personality, and will, like the physical body, eventually break down and dissolve away and into the building blocks of our earth (Sharira, easily dissolved).
The higher desires (Kama) and the higher mind (Manas) and all that is of "good nature" is harvested from the previous life by our Buddhic principle (our spiritual nature and vehicle of Atman) like an aroma from a rose. This aroma is joined together into what we can call a reincarnating ego between physical life experiences. Here in the bosom of Buddhi and our higher Manas we experience our own mini heaven world created by our expectations gained in the previous life. Theosophists call this state of mind Devachan. It translates "happy place." Everything there is positive, peaceful, and restful.
At death, our sevenfold composite nature goes to pieces. Our different composite souls enter into their proper places and Kingdoms. Our reincarnating ego mentally lives out positive expectations until the time comes when the thirst for earth life regains a hold on it. At that time of thirst, our harvested egoic center re-enters. It re-descends into our earth. It attracts the necessary karmic elements needed to become reborn in a new body, bringing our evolved swabhavic natures with us to continue our work here in earth. We are attracted to an appropriate womb and family circumstance, the Prana and Kama return, and a new and different personality is created.
Our individuality is the ever-changing, ever-evolving life essence destined to become godlike in the future. Theosophy, this divine wisdom, says that the personality is a fleeting page out of a vast book of life. There is no abiding principle in the personality or lower man. That which continues to exist is ever-changing through evolution. The deeds of the incarnated personality are food for our true Self, the individuality.
In mythology, it is said we are food for the gods. If we look back on our lives, we can see that we are not even today the same "individuals" that we were just a few years ago. There is a saying: as above, so below. We evolve. We change. Thank goodness!
The teachings that theosophical systems have to offer are essentially simple. The details are at times complex. One does not have to understand the philosophical details to realize that striving to lead ethical lives can only lead to eventual positive results on the path of our life's journey.
Theosophy teaches that our journey and the karmic events we encounter are self-generated. Theosophy offers hope. As we look into our personal plans, whether those plans are getting through college, getting on with the duties of family life, our jobs, and careers, or what have you, we will encounter choices. Some advice we can find in that great myth from the east, THE BHAGAVAD GITA. We learn that the trick to the daily fight is to remain as selfless and unattached to the results of our actions as we can, while striving to be ethical in worldly action. We come to realize that all events placed before us are self-created duties to be lived through. We are never inactive. We spin our own webs. We are indeed created by our Self-produced actions.
It is said there are only 36 dramatic situations. The mythological process continues today and you will see the old myths repeated in modern novels, movies and on television. Within the great myths of the world we find embodied some portion of ancient wisdom and truth fit for humanity. These myths are part of the process we god sparked egos use for carrying truth, the divine wisdom we call Theosophy, through manifested life.
By Katinka Hesselink
"Karma" is often used in New Age and Theosophical circles. It means the law of cause and effect. Etymologically, it means action. Superficially, it means something like: "He that mischief hatches, mischief catches." In addition, karma is directly related to reincarnation. Without reincarnation, one's last act does not come back to haunt or bless the doer.
Look now at aspects of karma found in life and theosophical literature. Consider the karma of thought, of responsibility, of surroundings, and of personality. Karma places responsibility on the individual for one's circumstances. An unkind person might not care about another's sorrow, thinking, "they deserve it," but they are part of one another's life. As soon as one feels apart from the other, without compassion for them, one shares guilt and responsibility for the other's sorrow. We cannot right all wrongs, but as Mabel Collins says in LIGHT ON THE PATH:
Remember that the sin and shame of the world are your sin and shame, for you are a part of it. Your karma is inextricably interwoven with the great Karma.
Karma includes physical action. Do I steal? Do I lie? Am I selfish? While important, there are yet questions that are more important. How am I in my thoughts? Are my thoughts real, without prejudice? Are they honest and giving? I act from what I have thought. I talk the way I think. In fact, those actions that are not honest in the sense of not flowing directly from what or who we are, will have to go, in the long run or very quickly, but they have to go.
In 1890, H.P. Blavatsky lived in a small communal group in London, the residents of the London Headquarters of the Theosophical Society. She set up a number of rules for them, including:
In Practical Theosophy, therefore, it is necessary that these five conditions should coexist:
RIGHT ACTION, AND
-- H.P. BLAVATSKY COLLECTED WRITINGS, XII, page 213
These conditions are given in the right order. Right action springs from right thought. Right speech and right feeling spring from right thought, too, although feeling and thought are interrelated. Right living is composed of all the previous ingredients. Every thought IS action, just like every spoken word is action. Every thought has its effect on you and the one you are thinking of. Healing ceremonies are based on this principle. It helps to think of the one you want to help with love and concentration. The healing ceremony focuses thought, allowing you to concentrate on the one needing help.
Thought also has an effect on the personality. Thought is influenced by the personality. Both are true. The personality is an illusion that we have created by our thought. We can change it by watching thought and radically uprooting or burning the meaningless and harmful ones.
"Uprooting" is the right word. Until we do so, we only rid ourselves of unwanted thoughts temporarily. Even so, pushing a thought away is better than endlessly dwelling on it. Consider the offensive thought, "Horrors! Those *** folks are taking over the country." We must uproot the thought so it will never return.
There are different approaches to right thought. In the YOGA SUTRAS OF PATANJALI, Taimni advises one to neutralize an offensive thought by thinking its opposite. Think a positive thought instead of a negative one. "Hey, they are human too, and some of the power does have to be shared."
Another approach is to look within. That process can take years. Ask, Where does the thought come from? You may have had a bad experience with a few *** people. That experience has generalized to encompass the whole group of people whom look that way. Generalizing caused the thought. For the thought to go, generalizing has to go too. This is a chore, but it directly relates to our spiritual welfare. De Purucker once stressed:
Karma is not an outside power. Karma is you. Our Lord the Buddha told the truth: you are your own karma. You have built yourself to be what you are now. You are now building for what in the future will be. You are your own karma, the consequence of the "you" that was. You are now the roots, the seed, of the "you" that will be.
-- THE DIALOGUES OF G. DE PURUCKER, II, page 10
We have our responsibility for the way that things are, but fresh karma is constantly being made. H.P. Blavatsky says:
It is not the INJUSTICE or MISTAKES of Karma which are the causes of such "undeserved misery," but other causes, independent of the past Karma of either the producer or the innocent victim of their effects, new ACTIONS generated by the wickedness of men and circumstances; and which arouse Karmic law to fresh activity, i.e. the punishment of those who caused the new NIDANAS (or causal connections), and the reward of him who suffered from them undeservedly.
-- H.P. BLAVATSKY COLLECTED WRITINGS, X, page 47
She essentially says that we should not ascribe everything that happens to our past karma. People do things now, good or bad actions. Each has its effect, which reaches into the future, but also effects us now. If suffering is caused now, there will be future compensation. According to H.P. Blavatsky, it is useless to ascribe all things to past karma. This is logical because we have the free will to make our lives better or worse NOW. We cause karma in the present. Not all karma comes from the past. In other words, we act continuously.
By Galina K. Tucker
[A poem by a young student written May 2001.]
Love, hate, death, life, All intermingled as one. One day you are showered with love. The next to death you've gone. Love is everywhere. Hate is too. Death rules the world. But life rules you. Love is the howl Of wolves in the wind, Running to fight, Their pack they defend. Hate is the fight itself, Vicious, bloody, to the death. Many Survive Though much more are dead. The stench of death Fills the air. Wolves whimper in pain. Death is everywhere. Life are the ones That survive. The ones that didn't Have to give their lives. Love, hate, death, life, All intermingled as one. One day you are showered with love. The next to death you've gone.
By George William Russell
[From THE IRISH THEOSOPHIST, February -- March 1893.]
For the future we intend that at this hour the Mystic shall be at home, less metaphysical and scientific than is his wont, but more really himself. It is customary at this hour, before the lamps are brought in, to give way a little and dream, letting all the tender fancies day suppresses rise up in our minds.
Wherever it is spent, whether in the dusky room or walking home through the blue evening, all things grow strangely softened and united. The magic of the old world reappears. The commonplace streets take on something of the grandeur and solemnity of starlit avenues of Egyptian temples. The public squares in the mingled glow and gloom grow beautiful as the Indian grove where Sakuntala wandered with her maidens. The children chase each other through the dusky shrubberies. As they flee past, they look at us with long remembered glances. Lulled by the silence, we forget a little while the hard edges of the material world and remember that we are SPIRITS.
Now is the hour for memory, the time to call in and make more securely our own all stray and beautiful ideas that visited us during the day, and which might otherwise be forgotten. We should draw them in from the region of things felt to the region of things understood. In a focus burning with beauty and pure with truth we should bind them, for from the thoughts thus gathered in something accrues to the consciousness. On the morrow a change impalpable but real has taken place in our being, we see beauty and truth through everything.
It is in like manner in Devachan, between the darkness of earth and the light of spiritual self-consciousness, that the Master in each of us draws in and absorbs the most rare and best of experiences, love, self-forgetfulness, and aspiration. Out of these, the Master distils the subtle essence of wisdom, so that he who struggles in pain for his fellows, when he wakens again on earth is endowed with the tradition of that which we call self-sacrifice, but which is in reality the proclamation of our own universal nature.
There are yet vaster correspondences, for so also we are told, when the seven worlds are withdrawn, the great calm Shepherd of the Ages draws his misty hordes together in the glimmering twilights of eternity. As they are penned within the awful Fold, the rays long separate are bound into one, and life, joy, and beauty disappear, to emerge again after rest unspeakable on the morning of a New Day.
Now if the aim of the mystic were to fuse into one all moods made separate by time, would not the daily harvesting of wisdom render unnecessary the long Devachanic years? No second harvest could be reaped from fields where the sheaves are already garnered. Thus disregarding the fruits of action, we could work like those who have made the Great Sacrifice, for whom even Nirvana is no resting place.
Worlds may awaken in nebulous glory, pass through their phases of self-conscious existence and sink again to sleep, but these tireless workers continue their age-long task of help. Their motive we do not know, but in some secret depth of our being we feel that there could be nothing nobler, and thinking this we have devoted the twilight hour to the understanding of their nature.
There are dreams, which may be history or may be allegory. There is in them nothing grotesque. There is nothing in them that could mar the feeling of authenticity, the sense of the actual occurrence of the dream incident. The faces and figures perceived have the light shade and expression that seems quite proper to the wonder-world in which the eye of the inner man has vision. Yet, the story may be read as a parable of spiritual truth like some myth of ancient scripture. Long ago, I had many such dreams, and having lately become a student of such things, I have felt an interest in recalling the more curious and memorable of these early visions.
The nebulous mid-region between waking and unconsciousness was the haunt of many strange figures, reflections perhaps from that true life led during sleep by the immortal man. Among these figures, two awoke the strangest feelings of interest. One was an old man with long gray hair and beard, whose gray-blue eyes had an expression of secret and inscrutable wisdom. I felt an instinctive reverence for this figure, so expressive of spiritual nobility, and it became associated in my mind with all aspiration and mystical thought. The other figure was that of a young girl.
These two appeared repeatedly in my visions, the old man always as instructor, and the girl always as companion. I have here written down one of these adventures, leaving it to the reader to judge whether it is purely symbolical, or whether the incidents related actually took place, and were out-realized from latency by the power of the Master within.
With the girl as my companion, I left an inland valley and walked towards the sea. It was evening when we reached it and the tide was far out. The sands glimmered away for miles on each side of us. We walked outwards through the dim-colored twilight. I was silent. A strange ecstasy slowly took possession of me, as if drop by drop an unutterable life was falling within. The fever grew intense, then unbearable as it communicated itself to the body. With a wild cry, I began to spin about, whirling round and round in ever-increasing delirium. Some secretness was in the air.
I was called forth by the powers of invisible nature and in a swoon I fell. I rose again with sudden memory, but my body was lying upon the sands. With a curious indifference, I saw that the tide was on the turn and the child was unable to remove the insensible form beyond its reach. I saw her sit down beside it and place the head upon her lap. She sat there quietly waiting, while all about her, little by little the wave of the Indian sea began to ripple inwards, and overhead the early stars began softly to glow.
After this, I forgot completely the child and the peril of the waters. I began to be conscious of the presence of a new world. All around me currents were flowing, in whose waves danced innumerable lives. Diaphanous forms glided about, a nebulous sparkle was everywhere apparent. Faces as of men in dreams glimmered on me, or unconsciously their forms drifted past, and now and then, a face looked sternly upon me with a questioning glance. I was not to remain long in this misty region. Again, I felt the internal impulse and internally I was translated into a sphere of more pervading beauty and light. Here with more majesty and clearness than I had observed before was the old man of my dreams.
I had thought of him as old but there was an indescribable youth pervading the face with its ancient beauty, and then I knew it was neither age nor youth, it was ETERNALNESS. The calm light of thought played over features clear-cut as a statue's, and an inner luminousness shone through the rose of his face and his silver hair.
There were others about, but of them I had no distinct vision.
He said, "You who have lived and wandered through our own peculiar valleys, look backwards now and learn the alchemy of thought." He touched me with his hand and I became aware of the power of these strange beings. I felt how they had waited in patience, how they had worked and willed in silence. From them as from a fountain went forth peace. To them as to the stars rose up unconsciously the aspirations of men, the dumb animal cravings, the tendrils of the flowers. I saw how in the valley where I lived, where naught had hindered, their presence had drawn forth in luxuriance all dim and hidden beauty, a rarer and purer atmosphere recalled the radiant life of men in the golden dawn of the earth.
With wider vision, I saw how far withdrawn from strife they had stilled the tumults of nations. I saw how hearing far within the voices, spiritual, remote, which called, the mighty princes of the earth descended from their thrones becoming greater than princes. Under this silent influence, the terrible chieftains flung open the doors of their dungeons that they themselves might become free. All these joined in that hymn which the quietude of earth makes to sound in the ears of the gods. Overpowered, I turned round. The eyes of light were fixed upon me.
"Do you now understand?"
"I do not understand," I replied. "I see that the light and the beauty and the power that enters the darkness of the world comes from these high regions; but I do not know how the light enters, nor how beauty is born. I do not know the secret of power."
"You must become as one of us," he answered.
I bowed my head until it touched his breast. I felt my life was being drawn from me, but before consciousness utterly departed and was swallowed up in that larger life, I learned something of the secret of their being. I lived within the minds of men, but their thoughts were not my thoughts. I hung like a crown over everything, yet age was no nearer than childhood to the grasp of my scepter, and sorrow was far away when it wept for my going, and very far was joy when it woke at my light. Yet, I was the lure that led them on. I was at the end of all ways, and I was in the sweet voice that cried, "return." I had learned how spiritual life is ONE in all things, when infinite vistas and greater depths received me, and I went into that darkness out of which no memory can ever return.
By Boris de Zirkoff
[From a tape recording entitled "The Dissemination of Esoteric Knowledge" made of a private class held on March 2, 1955.] I know of cases where people have quickly come back into incarnation. In theosophical work, people become more selfless, compassionate, and cognizant of universal or cosmic forces. Would these workers speed up their incarnations, throwing themselves into the vanguard of mankind? If so, that would account for people like Pythagoras or Plato. You would yearn to return, knowing it is a struggle. There are certain forces that know you dedicate yourself to this work. They would help you.
Yes, you may yearn to return early, even if you know it is a struggle. At your stage, not being able to return sooner on your own, you would be helped. There are agencies that make it easier to return sooner for those with enough of an urge to return. Eventually, we can arrange this ourselves. Unbeknown to us, those teachers help us guide our lives.
We need help at first. The teachers are our immediate superiors. We may have never met or thought much about them. We are connected to some greater individual whom exercises a guiding influence upon our lives from within the inner world. This influence is parallel to the guiding influence of our own higher selves.
What are the characteristics that make our devachanic sleep in the inner worlds longer? This is something that is not generally understood. It is a certain aspect of selfishness. We say "selfishness" because we have no good word to use. "Self-centeredness" is a better word, but not right.
There is the individual who yearns for beautiful things in the world of art for personal enjoyment. Another has a tendency to improve himself, an urge to learn and study, but no interest in helping anybody. A third individual likes comfort, peace, and beautiful surroundings, but never shares them. Another individual loves happiness, joy, harmonious and beautiful circumstances, and the love of other people. Again, he is for himself, never sharing it.
These are fine qualities, although completely self-centered, without interest in another's happiness, enjoyment, or spiritual growth. These qualities, when combined with a lack of interest in others, make a long Devachan.
When one wraps himself into a self-made dream world, made up of all these beautiful things, there is little incentive to get out. For one who has broken through his limitations, whatever he does in self-control, in self-improvement, or out of a yearning for beautiful and noble things is keyed to helping others. He strives to open doors for others, bringing others along with himself, irrespective of sacrifice. He has such a strong urge to continue work that it shortens his devachanic sleep.
How about a person whom has become aware of these things, but is selfish. At times, he does generous things without thought of reward, but is between the two poles. He is somewhat selfish but aware of theosophical truths.
The shortening of the devachanic sleep is an incentive. The intensity of these impulses determines whether it is shortened. The after-death states are individual, and in direct relation to what one has been. One gets what he makes for himself. Nothing else is given. After death, he is what he has made himself, what he has made his consciousness into.
You do not change after death. You eventually enter into a condition of consciousness that is your own thought-world exteriorized. It is simple. It is so simple that to some people it does not appeal. They would like to imagine themselves greatly changed after death. No, they are not changed. What would change them? Nothing else would change them except their own internal will to change. That will is not operative in the after-death condition. It operates here in incarnation.
It seems to be opposite in a person whom finds self-satisfaction in helping others. He should be rewarded with a longer devachanic sleep, but nothing is really gained in that sleep.
If the between-life condition of Devachan were a reward, this would be correct. Here is a man who has struggled for good. He has sacrificed himself. He has done many things for others. Should he be rewarded with a longer rest? No. He is the only person whom can reward himself. No other has jurisdiction over his condition. He has set his heart and mind on a certain work, and has an urge is to take as brief a rest as possible to be back to continue working. The reward for his self-sacrificing work is found in incarnate existence. That is where the karmic law operates, bringing the reward.
In whatever you do, you really have to go all out. Life is a struggle, and it is tiring. No matter whether it is your occupation, the more energy you put in, the more tired you get, and the longer you want to recover that expense of energy. Who gets tired? Your physical self does.
Yes, the brain, the nervous structure, and the lower part of the astral constitution tire. One may be exhausted. He may need recuperation. The Ego, the real man, does not tire from that effort. He lives for that exhilarating effort. He goes to rest and then comes back. He gets a new physical body, a new brain, and a new nervous structure. His astral constitution is new. It may be built with the same material. There is a readjustment of magnetic forces. He is the same actor, one who did not get tired. His vehicles have been reinvigorated, and he is renewed.
Compare this with daily sleep. No matter how interested we may be in what we did during the day, we wear out. We need sleep. Who got tired? What needs sleep? You will find that it is the brain, the nervous system, the physical body, but not the real man. The real man pops up the next morning with a ready to resume his interrupted work. He was not tired. It is good for us to ask the question, "What part of my constitution experiences what particular condition?"
Why do so many people seem so tired, those whom reincarnate quickly?
For the psychological nature of man, Devachan is rest. If people have too short a Devachan, they carry over into their next incarnation some psychological fatigue that remains from the time when they died. They should be congratulated that their urge to come back was so strong. That is a fine point in their favor.
Unconsciously to themselves, people sometimes shorten their after-death rest unwisely. They do not do this self-consciously. The result of their urge is that they come out too soon. This is like the man who desires at the end of the day to continue his work. He knows he has to go to bed, because his physique does not stand anymore. Then he wakes up early, and forces himself out of bed hours before he should. He wants to work, when the wiser thing would have been to control the urge and give the body more sleep. Many do that, unwisely.
They have to pay a price for it. Unless they have progressed spiritually rapidly, after awhile, they find themselves simply having to allow the natural course of nature to take place. Then, they would have a longer devachanic sleep. We know little of this process. We know the general principles, but we will only learn the details as we grow and are able to investigate these mysteries first hand.
There are many principles in Theosophy that we can know first hand, although we cannot investigate others of the Higher Teachings of the Esoteric Philosophy. We may speak of these Higher Teachings. We may use our collective understanding, but we cannot say, "I went last night self-consciously into the inner worlds and saw how things work."
Most of us are various stages of students. If we were in a chemical laboratory, we might recognize the professor handling chemicals and some apparatus as someone knowing what he is talking about. We can look at the apparatus and speculate on what he is doing. We can be instructed to a certain point, but none of us can take his place. Someday we become the professors, and we can perform these chemical experiments ourselves. Then we know, first hand, experimentally. Then we can teach others.
Remember that the Teachings, known as the Esoteric Philosophy, are to large extent a system of thought worth our most careful study. Only to some small extent are they a matter of personal knowledge. We cannot claim to know first hand, experimentally, how these things work. See the difference! Some people claim that Theosophy is based on belief and faith, like a religion. Not so!
Say that I have not been in Australia. Should I discount everything said by a man who had been there, because I do not have a first hand observation? Should I say, "Well, maybe Australia does not exist? It is the man's imagination. He has not been there." That would be stupid. We believe that man. Our knowledge about Australia is based on what he tells. It is based on our trust in his judgment and validity of his word. It works.
Why not apply the same argument to Theosophy? We accept much on trust, which is not blind faith. We accept it provisionally until we can go to the inner worlds with our awakened inner senses and learn experimentally. Today we study intellectually, logically, and prepare ourselves for a more definite knowledge in the future.
In the devachanic state, you do not evolve, because you have to live out your past karma. It is a rest period. Why have a long Devachan when there is no evolution? Why should it matter whether is it 3,000 years or 1,500 years? You are not working toward any essential goal during that time. You are not really doing much.
Nature adjusts its conditions to the state of human consciousness. For the majority, it would not make a difference. With the majority who just drift through life, one week or month does not make a difference. They are not conscious of the passage of time, nor do they use their time constructively. They drift.
With the students, it starts to matter. They prefer the dynamic evolutionary growth while incarnate to the period of rest between lives. Their center of gravity is where the dynamic evolutionary process is. They have an urge to both evolve faster and help others do the same. There is, you see, another angle to this. The devachanic condition does have an influence upon incarnated life.
I cannot define this fully, but you can compare it with your daily sleep. Suppose you have a beautiful dream. Suppose another night you have a terrible nightmare. The conditions in your sleep were in both cases powerful -- in one time unpleasant, in another time powerfully pleasant. Perhaps in sleep, you had a great elevating experience in which you took part. In both cases, several days are affected by your dream. In your mind during the day, in the background somewhere, you will carry the effect of the terrible nightmare or the beautiful dream. It will have an effect upon your work.
Would your devachanic state have an effect upon your next life or lives? Your conditions in Devachan are important, but not the time spent there. You could have a dream in two hours, for instance, or you could sleep for ten hours and not dream at all.
We speak of the years in Devachan from our viewpoint, from the viewpoint of our clocks, which is unsatisfactory.
The entity in Devachan would have the conception of time prevailing in that particular state. Imagine Devachan as a marvelous spiritual dream for a particular man, a most satisfying spiritual experience wherein he brings out from within himself some of the richness of his noblest aspirations. This is the essence of Devachan. Compare this to the happiest moment, period, day, or week in your life. At that moment, were you conscious of time? No. You were not looking at the clock every few moments thinking, "When is this beautiful condition going to end?" Time did not exist for you. You do not want to look at the clock!
Our expression is limited because we talk about spiritual states using clock time, which is wrong. We have to be understood in some way, so we use human terms.
Devachan is our passive state. Our active state is when we are incarnate. In that passive state, we are our best. We dream we have the finest of everything, and nothing is disagreeable. We bring that dream into the next incarnation. It was not entirely in vain.
You start out as a child, remembering a little, and if it is understood, that could be fostered. This memory could do much good.
Devachan is not a passage of time only for rest, but its good starts when you are again incarnate. It does not matter how long it takes to give you this condition, because you do not benefit until alive again. What difference does it make how long you are up there, or down there, or wherever you are? If you come too soon, it might throw you two or three thousand years ahead of the next guy.
Take an analogy with sleep. If you have lived 75 years, perhaps you have slept 25. For 75 years of life, Nature is not going to provide 25 years of sleep without purpose. That sleep has given something. It has had an enormous effect because you have dreamt. Your consciousness has been in various states every day for one third of the 24 hours. The same is true of the devachanic experience. It is a passive condition, a latent condition, but an integral part of the other facet of the dynamic evolutionary momentum, the incarnated life. It is not a waste of time, no more than sleep is.
I did not mean it is a waste of time. I do not understand why the time is important. We discussed one evening about the ones whom died from bombing. They only had a short life. They came back in two or three years. Some come back quickly. Others come back in 1500 years. The effect was the same as if they had lived a full life relative to us because of what happened. The time is not important.
I see. I cannot answer because of my limited understanding. Much of these Teachings have never been given out. I could not answer that question to your complete satisfaction. Perhaps my teacher could have.
There are many points about these Teachings we remain uncertain about. The general principles are clear enough. The subject of time complicates things, because it is illusory. If we knew the nature of time, we might rephrase things completely.
Should we concern ourselves with time?
Not much. No. We are slaves of it, of that particular conception. Every time we escape from the concept, we feel relief. When we experience something without looking at the clock, there is none of that slavery to a particular mental conception of clock time.
Be aware of the dangers existing in the present day world. Be realistic, not overlooking existing unpleasant facts. Emphasize from time to time the positive facet of our present life. This is importance to our work. It is important to other people whom we might help.
Just because you happen to read the newspaper, do not forget that there has been in this half century a tremendous shift of human consciousness. There has been a shift from the material to the spiritual, from negation of spiritual values to the provisionally accepting of them by millions of people.
A great change of attitude towards life has happened. The people all over the world are realizing that the knowledge of nature is small compared with its mysteries. We have become less self-sufficient, less self-righteous, and less bombastic about our so-called knowledge. In the last two or three generations, we have become more aware of our relative ignorance, face to face with unlimited possibilities in nature which we are gradually tapping. This works towards a humble attitude about life. Knowing a thousand times more than they did before, the leaders of thought are keenly aware of how little they know compared to what there is to be known. That is open mindedness. That is a great promise for the future.
Having been privileged to learning a few things from the storehouse of Truth, we students of Theosophy might be humble and modest ourselves. No matter how many years we may have studied, we have but lifted a corner of the veil. No matter how much we may have learned, we are infants in an infinite school of life, wherein we may advance by self-devised evolution.
The evolutionary process is endless. The student is essentially his own master on the way. Every moment of our life, the inner unfoldment brings out new possibilities from within our souls. The evolutionary process is constant unfoldment. We seek keep up our self-devised effort to unfold. We bring out from within us the spiritual possibilities, so that they can become realities in our lives.